Name: William Harry Stroven
Rank/Branch: Captain/US Air Force 
Unit: 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron 
Udorn Airfield, Thailand 

Date of Birth: 15 July 1942 
Home of Record: Fremont, MI 
Date of Loss: 28 October 1968 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 172500N 1062700E (XE540261) 
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C "Phantom II"
Other Personnel in Incident: Kenneth A. Stonebraker (missing)


SYNOPSIS:   The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2) and had a long range, 900 - 2300 miles depending on stores and mission type. The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. It was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.

The RF4 version of the Phantom II is a reconnaissance aircraft outfitted for photographic and electronic reconnaissance missions. Other RF4s were equipped with infrared and side-looking radar which helped advance the technology of reconnaissance during the war. They were also used to fly target detection and bomb damage assessment missions throughout Southeast Asia.

In the pre-dawn hours of 28 October, Capt. William H. Stroven, pilot; and Capt. Kenneth A. Stronebraker, navigator, comprised the crew of an RF4C, call sign "Diode," that departed Udorn Airfield on a single aircraft photo reconnaissance flight. Their target was the Quang Khe Ferry near the major communist port city of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. The weather conditions in the target area consisted of overcast cloud cover with a 2,000 feet ceiling with 6,000 foot tops and rain showers.

The flight proceeded to its assigned weather check point, then turned north toward their destination. Once on station, Capt. Stroven checked in with the on sight Forward Air Controller (FAC), "Alleycat," requesting clearance to initiate their photo run from 0505 hours to 0515 hours on the Quang Khe Ferry. Once Diode commenced its photo run, Alleycat turned his attention to another aircraft for weather reconnaissance information.

Once Capt. Stroven and Capt. Stonebraker completed their mission, they contacted "Waterboy," the airborne command and control aircraft, to receive instructions for their new flight path into the existing traffic pattern and current weather advisories. Waterboy passed along those directions which, in turn, were acknowledged by Capt. Stroven. At 0519 hours Waterboy lost both radar and voice contact with Diode. The location of loss placed Diode over jungle covered mountains approximately 13 miles west-southwest of Dong Hoi as he egressed in that direction.

When all attempts to re-establish contact failed, search and rescue (SAR) efforts were initiated. Further, the commander of 7th Air Force instructed all units to conduct an electronic search for the missing aircraft and crew. When no trace of the William Stroven and Kenneth Stonebraker could be found, both men were listed Missing in Action.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Fighter pilots in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.